‘Morning Joe’ Hosts and Trump Bring National Enquirer Into Their Feud – New York Times

when the president described Ms. Brzezinski as “low I.Q. Crazy Mika” and claimed that she had been “bleeding badly from a face-lift” during a social gathering at Mr. Trump’s resort in Florida around New Year’s Eve.

In a deeply divided capital, Mr. Trump’s attack managed to unite lawmakers of both parties in condemning his remarks, and news organizations (even Trump-friendly ones) also rebuked the president. And the personal nature of his attack on Ms. Brzezinski revived the controversy over Mr. Trump’s attitude toward women.

In an op-ed in The Washington Post on Friday, Ms. Brzezinski and Mr. Scarborough, who are engaged to be married, said Mr. Trump’s tweets represented a “continued mistreatment of women” and they underscored that theme on their show as well.

“I’m concerned about the messages that are being sent by this president,” Mr. Scarborough said. “You have women who are being constantly degraded.”

“It is disturbing that the president of the United States keeps up his unrelenting assault on women,” they wrote. “From his menstruation musings about Megyn Kelly, to his fat-shaming treatment of a former Miss Universe, to his braggadocio claims about grabbing women’s genitalia, the 45th president is setting the poorest of standards for our children.”

The White House did not explain what had prompted Mr. Trump’s outburst, but a spokeswoman said the president was entitled to fight back against those in the media who he felt attacked him unfairly.

Perhaps the most striking part of the two hosts’ pushback was their claim that the White House tried to leverage a planned article in The National Enquirer to get them to apologize to the president for their comments about him.

Mr. Scarborough said they were repeatedly told that if they called the president and apologized for their coverage, Mr. Trump would intervene on their behalf. “We ignored their desperate pleas,” they wrote.

After the show aired, the fight moved to Twitter. Mr. Trump fired a volley, tweeting that he had watched the “low rated @Morning_Joe for first time in long time” and called it “FAKE NEWS.”

Referring to Mr. Scarborough, he wrote: “He called me to stop a National Enquirer article. I said no! Bad show”

Mr. Scarborough responded within minutes, denying Mr. Trump’s claim.

And again:

In a statement, The National Enquirer defended an earlier story on Ms. Brzezinski and Mr. Scarborough and said it had “absolutely no involvement” in any discussions between the co-hosts and the White House.

“At no time did we threaten either Joe or Mika or their children in connection with our reporting on the story,” said Dylan Howard, the vice president of news for American Media Inc., the Enquirer’s publisher.

In their op-ed, Ms. Brzezinski and Mr. Scarborough disputed the details of Mr. Trump’s Thursday tweets.

His claim that Ms. Brzezinski was bleeding from a face-lift was “a lie,” they wrote, adding: “Mr. Trump claims that we asked to join him at Mar-a-Lago three nights in a row. That is false. He also claimed that he refused to see us. That is laughable.”

They wrote: “And though it is no one’s business, the president’s petulant personal attack against yet another woman’s looks compels us to report that Mika has never had a face-lift. If she had, it would be evident to anyone watching ‘Morning Joe’ on their high-definition TV.”

Ms. Brzezinski did have a “little skin under her chin tweaked,” but it was not a secret, they wrote.

The co-hosts were scheduled to be on vacation on Friday but delayed their plans to appear on the show to respond to the president’s tweets.

Until recently, the president had a friendly relationship with the hosts, who were criticized during the campaign for their closeness to the candidate.

In recent months, however, the pair have excoriated Mr. Trump on the air, denouncing his behavior and questioning his mental health — criticisms the president views as a personal betrayal, according to a senior administration official.

Last month, Ms. Brzezinski and Mr. Scarborough told Vanity Fair that the president had offered to officiate at their wedding and host it at the White House or Mar-a-Lago. (Ms. Brzezinski said her answer to that was, “If it weren’t Trump, it might be something to think about.”)

Mr. Trump’s invective threatened to further erode his support among Republican women and independents, both among voters and on Capitol Hill, where he needs negotiating leverage for the stalled Senate health care bill.

A spokeswoman for the president, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, on Thursday urged the news media to move on. She argued during the White House briefing that Mr. Trump was “fighting fire with fire” by attacking a longtime critic.

A slew of Republicans criticized the president’s comments.

Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska tweeted: “Stop it! The presidential platform should be used for more than bringing people down.”

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